There was no breakthrough during the Moscow talks last week. Iran and the team representing the UN permanent members plus Germany agreed only on a low-level meeting for experts in Istanbul in early July. There doesn’t seem to be much room for compromise. The West demands that: Iran stop enriching uranium to 20%; send any uranium already enriched abroad; and close down its enrichment plant at Fordo. Iran’s response - the right to enrich uranium to 20% is non-negotiable.
To try and change that, the West is putting huge pressure on the Iranian economy through sanctions. A ban on the import of Iranian oil to the European Union comes into force at the end of this month. And the US sanctions are already so fierce that a man speaking Persian wasn’t allowed to buy an ipad in Alpharetta, Atlanta last week. The West has also engaged in cyber warfare, aimed at crippling Iran’s nuclear programme. The latest virus is called ‘Flame’. The Iranians have made it clear they can deal with the threat. And on the sidelines the Israelis are loudly proclaiming that time is running out, i.e. Iran will soon have a nuclear bomb.
It could be a very hot summer. Diplomacy seems to have run out of options. the danger of war is ever nearer. Intense intercession is needed. Civil war once seemed inevitable in South Africa – but Christians prayed. This is now history. It can be the same for Iran. Everyone expected a terrible war in 2012 – but Christians prayed.
• A breakthrough in Istanbul in July
• Catherine Ashton and Saeid Jalilee, key diplomats
• President Obama and Ayatollah Khamanei, key political leaders